Yen posts biggest weekly gain since 2008, stocks slip

Fri Apr 29, 2016 4:18pm EDT
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By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The yen hit an 18-month high on Friday as investors bet the Bank of Japan might be done adding stimulus to the economy, while stocks in Europe and on Wall Street headed lower as earnings disappointed.

Major European stock indexes closed down more than 2 percent, but U.S. equities pared some losses by the close after being down as much as 1 percent.

The yen posted its biggest weekly gain since the 2008 financial crisis, also spurred by a weak reading of U.S. economic growth in the first quarter on Thursday and the Federal Reserve's cautious tone this week.

The yen has gained 3 percent since Thursday when the BOJ decided to hold monetary policy steady in the face of soft global demand and the yen's recent sharp rise. The BOJ move defied expectations for increased stimulus measures to fight deflation.

The dollar was last down 1.57 percent against the yen at 106.38 yen after hitting an 18-month low of 106.29. The dollar was off about 4.8 percent against the yen for the week, and set to post its biggest weekly loss since October 2008.

The dollar also tumbled against the euro, with the euro hitting its highest against the dollar in two and a half weeks, at $1.1459. The euro was last up 0.85 percent against the dollar at $1.1447.

"A large part of this move is the BOJ, which caught a lot of investors by surprise," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange Inc in Washington.

The dollar could fall to 105 yen in coming weeks as traders unwind "short" bets against the yen, analysts said.   Continued...

A man (R) cleans electronic boards showing Japan's Nikkei average, the exchange rate between the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar and stock quotation outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, in this April 6, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files